Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SORT Out Your Marriage

I am no marriage expert. I can only be thankful for the 4+ years of marriage to my wonderful wife. The following list came to me the other day as I considered what is important in marriage:

Stability
Openness
Respect
Time

The first letters form the word "SORT." Now what do I mean by these things?

STABILITY

This factor involves the situational and financial aspect of your marriage. Stable living arrangements and finances provide security. Without this basic stability it is hard to focus on more advanced issues in your relationship. Without this basic stability it is easy to lose respect for your spouse or even yourself. Lack of basic stability brings life into question in profound ways.
It doesn't matter your living conditions, be they humble or grand. What is important is that you are secure and stable in what you do have. Money is required for stability and more of it can make things easier but it can also destabilize you as well.
Stability also has a geographical dimension. Our surroundings are a huge part of our feeling of stability. If you keep hopping from one city to the next, or one house or apartment to the next, you lose emotional stability as regards your day-to-day life and your friendships.
Setting down good roots and keeping finances in order is very important for marriage.

OPENNESS

This one could just as well be labeled transparency. Emotional and personal intimacy is just as important and physical intimacy. You can't have a relationship without understanding each other and you can't understand each other if you don't know each other.
One major barrier to openness is fear of what the other will think. If one spouse tends to condemn or control this will almost always put the brakes on openness. If a spouse feels condemned or controlled then that needs to be worked out so that both spouses can feel free to be open again. Sometimes the fear of condemnation or control is imaginary; the spouse has never really exhibited such tendencies; in such cases the fearful spouse perhaps is transferring the experience of another friend or relative onto their partner. Ultimately, any barrier to openness needs to be carefully analyzed and dealt with.
If you aren't fully open, you will drift apart, because your closeness, such as it will be, will only be with fake versions of yourselves. This is a road to divorce.
Insignificant secrets tend to snowball to include important facts. Being honest with yourself, and then honest about yourself with your partner, is very important to marriage.

RESPECT

Respect is holding someone in high esteem despite their differences. In many ways, respect is also "unity in diversity." Your spouse is royalty; each spouse should honor and serve the other not as VIPs (Very Important Persons) but MIPs (Most Important Persons). This treatment should not change if you disagree about things. If there is disagreement, respect means you approach the other with the intention of conciliation and compromise and NOT getting your way. You cannot have freedom without respect in much the same way that control or condemnation cannot exist alongside of respect. There is always a way. Love will find a way, as your love is manifested in admiration and ultimately, as true respect even when you don't feel particularly loving.
So then, respect means holding your spouse to be your equal, regardless of differences. You may have different strengths and weaknesses, but you are equal. If you do not believe this, you should not be married. Since you are equal, your decisions should be shared, instead of unilateral. Your openness and time together along with respect should result in you discussing nearly every decision (and ALL serious decisions) with your spouse.
Respect is a significant factor in a successful marriage.

TIME

Spending time together is essential. Relationships don't thrive on autopilot. Yet couples get themselves so involved in other things and assume everything will be okay. However, doing that is basically taking each other for granted.
An hour a day, an afternoon together each week--carve out daily and weekly time with your spouse. You don't have to do anything except snuggle or watch a TV show or eat or just lay in bed and talk. Your togetherness will foster personal and emotional intimacy which will often lead to intimacy of another kind!
This time you spend with each other will result in you connecting on all kinds of levels, sometimes talking out important issues, sometimes just laughing, sometimes just being together.
Time together is like a service station for your marriage. All kinds of repairs and preventative maintenance happen here. It is a very important part of marriage that you can't overlook.

Abe's of Maine Review: The Real Deal

Your order will not be shipped until you have been called with upsells.
I denied all upsells the first time. I declined the memory upsell because I already had memory. Then he offered the warranty. I hadn't planned on purchasing the warranty so I declined. He made me feel bad for declining without finding out the price. I let him tell me the price, but still declined. He ended by saying that my order would be shipped and the tracking number would be sent to me.
The second time, another guy started down the same upsell path, acting like my package was ready to go. I told him I didn't need the memory. Since I was 1) on the fence about the warranty and 2) felt like I might get better service/faster processing if I caved to an upsell, I specifically asked about 3-yr laptop warranty with ADH, and bought it after negotiating down the pricing, which ended up being the same price as if I had bought it on my own from SquareTrade.
I then went to lunch and started second guessing the additional money I spent on the warranty. I have succeeded in mostly justifying it to myself, as the average laptop out-off-warranty hardware repair is usually at least $100-120. It's just that I wasn't prepared to spend that money right now.
I imagine that their low prices are subsidized through these types of upsells. If you intend to decline all upsells, you should expect multiple calls, and for your order to be held up until they give up. A coworker of mine made the observation that such upsell calls are a potential misuse of my personal information. I think they are operating in a gray area in this matter.
All this was on a Friday. On Monday, the order status said "Sent to Warehouse". Tuesday morning, the order status said "Shipped" with Monday's date, but no tracking number. After lunch Tuesday, I received a UPS Quantum Ship notification with the tracking number. The link said that the label was created but UPS hadn't received the package yet. So it was obviously being shipped on Tuesday, not Monday as the order status indicated. Since my package is being tendered to UPS on Tuesday, I wouldn’t receive it until the next Monday. The kicker is that the two upsell calls I received on Friday gave the impression that my order was ready to ship.
In contrast to this, I placed an order for memory on TigerDirect on Friday about 15 minutes prior to placing my order on Abe's, and it was scheduled to show up on Thursday.
Between the time I placed my order and the time it arrived I received NINE advertisement emails trying to get me to buy more stuff.
The sad part about this is that Abe's really failed to build a relationship with me. They were too focused on upselling me to process my order quickly. Then they keep trying to sell me stuff while I wait. I was too uncomfortable with that to use them again.
The package arrived in good shape. The box was reused, and the printing on the box indicated that it was originally used to ship meat. This seemed a bit unprofessional. Inside the box, was the laptop in the manufacturer's box with the manufacturer's seal intact, a packing slip, and the extended warranty paperwork.
If you review Abe's of Maine reviews online, they tend to fall toward extremes... great experience or challenging experience. Given my experience with Abe's matches the negative reviewers, and the fact that the positive reviews mostly are 5-star one-liners, I suspect Abe's of posting their own positive reviews.
For this reason, I am posting my review on my blog, or else it will just lost in an avalanche of positive reviews that result in an overall higher rating that I do not feel appropriately represents the company.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Kingdom of God Blather

Well if you read my two previous posts, I have to add, they are fine pieces of imagination. Because the Christian church doesn't work that way. It is a way that is consistent with the message of Christ but it isn't reality.
It is frustrating to solve a problem and then realise that the intrinsic nature of the reality of things is pretty much against it.
I can sit and read and think (and even pray if I think it will help) and figure things out. But it has to work on the ground.
The church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of truth and when it is not, it calls into question many things.